Softball: Freshman Bella Jacobs strikes out 10 in debut for Sycamore against Indian Creek

Brighton Snodgrass, Tia Durst homer in the Spartans’ 11-1 win

SYCAMORE – Although it was her first varsity appearance, Bella Jacobs has pitched her way out of jams before – at least in practice.

The Sycamore freshman escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam to preserve a five-run lead at the time in an 11-1 win against Indian Creek on Wednesday.

“We’ve done some little mock games inside, even just in the cage, and she seems to do that a lot,” Sycamore coach Jill Carpenter said. “She would fake load the bases and she’d get out of it without giving up a run when we did little team competitions and stuff. I hope that helped her a little bit, knowing she worked her way out of jams before, even if it was simulated.”

The Spartans (2-0) led 6-1 in the top of the fourth when Mahlala Gonzalez led off by reaching on an error, then Avery Boehne and Geena Sanford each singled to load the bases.

But Jacobs got two strikeouts and a shallow popout to left field to escape the jam. In the bottom of the next inning, the Spartans scored the five runs they needed to secure the run-rule victory.

“There’s a lot of pressure. But I think I did pretty well. You kind of just have to compose you’re head and everything and pretend it’s just you and the catcher.”

—  Bella Jacobs

“You have a lead, so it’s not that big of a deal, but you don’t want that run to score,” Jacobs said. “So you have to stay in your head that you got this. And sometimes I slow down my motion and focus on my mechanism so I can just throw a strike. If there’s three balls and I know they’re going to take it, I slow it down so I know I will throw a strike.”

Both teams played their season openers Tuesday, with Indian Creek losing 12-10 at Oregon and Sycamore beating Burlington Central 6-4. Originally, Prairie Ridge was on the Spartans’ schedule, but the Wolves had to back out, and the Timberwolves (0-2) stepped in.

Jacobs’ only blemish came in the second after the Spartans had staked her to a 5-0 lead. Gonzalez started the inning with a single then Boehne beat out a bunt for a single. With two outs, Libby Johnson singled to center to score Gonzalez.

The freshman finished allowing one run and five hits in four innings. She struck out 10 and didn’t walk or hit a batter.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” Jacobs said. “But I think I did pretty well. You kind of just have to compose you’re head and everything and pretend it’s just you and the catcher.”

Indian Creek coach Denver Davis said not scoring in the fourth was a lost opportunity for the Timberwolves.

“We would have been back in it with a nice hit,” Davis said. “If we would have put the ball in play, we could have plated a couple more runs, that’s for sure. We had runners on several times, but can’t muster to get them in.”

The Spartans jumped on Indian Creek and starter Boehne, with Addie McLaughlin doubling home Thea Boubin before the Timberwolves could record an out. Brooklyn Snodgrass and Kait Williams had RBI singles, then Brighton Snodgrass added a two-run home run.

Tia Durst added a solo home run in the second. In the fifth, the first six Spartans reached, with Keera Trautvetter scoring on a wild pitch to end the game.

Boehne had two of the five hits for the Timberwolves. Faith Heil was 3 for 3 for the Spartans, Brooklynn Snodgrass was 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI, and Brighton Snodgrass had two hits, two runs and three RBIs.

Carpenter said she was glad all three of her pitchers got time in the circle in these first two games, with Alyssa Wilkerson getting relief work in both games and Addison Dierschow picking up the win Tuesday.

“I think Bella Jacobs got a chance to get her feet wet,” Carpenter said. “We wanted to get her out on the mound today not knowing what the rest of the week looks like weather-wise. So all three of our pitchers have gotten to throw now, and that was important to us. She had a couple really strong innings, got out of a jam there toward the end. I thought she showed some poise out there.”

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